From Division 2 to the current Tier 1 champions, BOOM Esports skyrocketed to the top. Esports.gg chatted with captain skem and midlaner Yopaj to talk about their recent achievements.
BOOM Esports is hands-down the hottest team in Dota 2 at the moment. They were off a clean run throughout the Winter Tour, bagging first place for both Regional Leagues and Regional Finals in SEA. But what made them stand out on the global stage was their dominant run at the Gamers Galaxy event, defeating Dota 2 giants such as Nigma Galaxy, Team Secret, and Team Spirit. The triumphant victories did not come without a story. Here is how BOOM Esports rose from a local team to a global star.
A miraculous beginning sets a rapid growth
BOOM Esports’ Dota 2 journey started with an interesting twist. In the previous season, the organization (with a different roster) was relegated to the SEA Lower Division. Following the relegation, BOOM Esports rebuilt its roster. They kept offlaner Saieful "Fbz" Ilham and added four more players from notable teams in the region. Former Neon Esports players, skem and Yopaj, former TNC player Timothy John "Tims" Randrup, and former Omega Esports player Justine Ryan Evangelista "Tino" Grimaldo joined the team.
They were set to begin from scratch in Division II but they met a miraculous sequence of events. One team in the Upper Division was removed due to match-fixing which led to BOOM Esports retaining their slot in the Upper Division.
Although BOOM was ecstatic, they didn’t get their attention swayed from the main goal, and that is The International. “We are happy but we didn’t just aim for the first season, we are aiming for the long-term,” team captain of BOOM Esports, skem said in an interview with Esports.gg.
BOOM Esports becomes the new crowned kings of SEA
The team eventually proved their prowess during the SEA Regional Leagues and settled as the top-seed. But even so, BOOM Esports opted for a roster change. They replaced their carry player Tino with Souliya "JaCkky" Khoomphetsavong who is known to be a monster in pubs.
While fans speculated some inside issues, Yopaj revealed that they actually wanted to play with Jackky from the start, but it only could happen ahead of the Regional Finals. “We initially wanted to play with Jackky but there were negotiation problems I think,” said midlaner Yopaj.
And that rounds out BOOM Esports’ current lineup; a powerful stack comprising 3 Filipinos, 1 Indonesian, and 1 Lao.
- Souliya "JaCkky" Khoomphetsavong
- Erin Jasper "Yopaj" Ferrer
- Saieful "Fbz" Ilham
- Timothy John "Tims" Randrup
- Rolen Andrei Gabriel "skem" Ong
The squad's chemistry even after the roster change was still just as great, if not better. They won the Regional Finals of SEA, defeating T1 3-1.
BOOM Esports communicate with each other in English and despite cultural differences, they mix together well. “We have the same attitude and same mindset,” skem said. And when asked if they do anything else together, skem gave the average Dota 2 player answer. “We play Dota 2 all day long,” he laughed, “but we also do some exercise together as a team.”
The team showcased a spectacular performance in the SEA region, but up next was a big test.
The Gamers Galaxy Invitational Series hosted 9 world-renowned teams in Dubai to battle it off in the first Tier-1 LAN event since TI10 - and BOOM Esports was invited. This would be their first-ever LAN event as a team and it even placed them amongst international Tier 1 organizations.
A spectacular show at the Gamers Galaxy Invitational
The boys of BOOM had a great opening at the tournament, placing first in the Group Stage. But entering the Playoffs, they stumbled upon Tundra Esports and lost 1-2. This dropped BOOM to the Lower Bracket and into the tough pit of near-elimination. It also meant that they had to cross multiple hurdles to secure a slot at the Grand Final including Team Secret, Team Spirit, and Nigma Galaxy.
Despite the experience gap between them and their opponents, BOOM Esports effortlessly won series after series. From defeating TI10 champions to trumping down their own idols, BOOM Esports sat under the limelight of the Gamers Galaxy Invitational.
Undoubtedly, the Dota sphere had all eyes on the rising Southeast Asian team and it is even reflected in the numbers. BOOM Esports was the most popular team in the Gamers Galaxy Invitational, accumulating 121k average viewers.
Skem and Yopaj talk about their fight against Tundra Esports
BOOM pulled through and went to the Grand Final to battle out a revenge series against Tundra Esports. In the first game, Tundra played a midlane Legion Commander and many people pointed out a bug on the hero that caused her to be overpowered.
“We didn’t know about the bug, we only knew after the game but yeah, we cannot do anything about that,” skem said.
While some fans were unsatisfied with the use of a bug in the match, BOOM Esports didn't think it caused them the loss, “It’s not about the bug, we just played badly in that game,” said skem.
After a neck and neck series of five games, BOOM became the champions of the Gamers Galaxy Invitational.
Skem revealed that losing to Tundra Esports earlier on in the Upper Bracket gave them the opportunity to read and analyze their opponent. “After we lost to Tundra, we watched replays and studied our mistakes, and we managed to fix them,” said Yopaj.
Tundra’s challenging gameplay certainly made them the most enjoyable team to play against. Skem shared, “We really enjoyed playing against them because they are a good team. We learned a lot from playing them like how to lane and itemize.”
Both of them especially mentioned the unique drafts and gameplay Tundra brought to the table. “Tundra’s laning and how they play is good. Their heroes are quite interesting,” said skem. Yopaj agreed, “Nine has a lot of weird heroes, so he’s very unpredictable.”
Yopaj: "We didn't expect much from the tournament because we lacked practice."
BOOM Esports earned their first big win on the global stage in Dubai and although they kept their confidence high, they didn't quite expect it.“We didn’t expect too much from the tournament because we lacked practice at that time. We’re just happy that we managed to become champions even though we didn’t have much practice,” said Yopaj.
In courtesy of their deep chemistry and gameplay expertise, they managed to come out on top. They also would not reach this far without guidance from their coach, Chai "Mushi" Yee Fung. “He is an in-game coach as well as a life coach,” Yopaj said regarding Mushi, who had been remotely coaching them throughout the tournament. He highlighted that Mushi always gives words of encouragement to enjoy their games but also not to lose focus.
With the LAN event, we also got to see wholesome moments between players. Yopaj and Taiga from OG exchanged jerseys and members of BOOM Esports also took pictures with Nigma Galaxy players.
Skem revealed that he didn't interact with other players throughout the event. Understandably, going out there on your first Tier 1 LAN event can be intimidating. “I didn’t talk with other players, I don’t really want to because I’m shy,” he laughed.
BOOM Esports celebrated the win at a restaurant in Dubai while talking about none other than the exciting Dota 2 they played at the Gamers Galaxy event. But the screen has not faded to black and the credits are not rolling just yet. BOOM’s journey has only begun.
Road to The International 11
The Spring Tour DPC just kick-started and their run to The International 11 draws closer. Skem shared that they’re fully confident they’ll make it to TI11, but they keep no expectations. In this second Regional League of the year, BOOM looks forward to fighting who they consider their rival, T1. “They're a really strong team and when we face them it’s kind of hard for us. T1 is our toughest opponent in the region.” said skem.
Before we closed out our chat, we asked them what they had to say to their opponents in the upcoming DPC matches.
Skem: Good luck to all the teams.
Do you want to say something spicier?
Yopaj: No no, we are humble!
Well BOOM Esports is certainly known for their humility but they never hold back to bring ruthless ferocity in-game. Catch the boys of BOOM Esports playing their first SEA DPC match against Nigma Galaxy SEA on 19 March.